HCP mental health in focus for World Mental Health Day 2021

Creating awareness about how people can access mental health services was never more important than during the peak of the pandemic.

Almost every national peak body or consumer healthcare organisation has an awareness week or day. This often carries additional pressure for the in-house communications team to deliver a multi-channel communications campaign to maximise the awareness raising opportunity during the dedicated week or day. To alleviate this pressure for Mental Health Australia, London Agency jumped on board to support with earned media outreach in the lead up to World Mental Health Day 2021.

Various lockdowns and restrictions on socialising to curb the spread of COVID-19 has impacted on the mental health and wellbeing of people worldwide, with 56% of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Creating awareness about how people can access mental health services has never been more important.

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy. The campaign theme for 2021 was to “Look after your mental health, Australia” by Looking Up! Looking Forward! & Looking Out for each other. The campaign aim was to reduce stigma, foster connectivity and promote help-seeking behaviour.

One specific population group that has been hit the hardest during this time are healthcare professionals. Doctors, nurses, pathologists, laboratory technicians, community healthcare providers, first responders, paramedics, the list of effected healthcare providers on the frontline is endless. Although everyone was aware and thankful for the incredible work these people were doing during the pandemic it wasn’t clear how healthcare professionals had been coping during the challenging times. Especially those who do not immediately jump to mind when you picture a frontline worker.

London Agency decided it was time to ask healthcare providers “how are you doing?” for a change. We believed this would act as an interesting story angle for national media to shine the light on those who were working tirelessly to protect the community from COVID-19.

To delve deeper into the mental health and wellbeing of those on the frontline London Agency created a survey specifically designed for healthcare providers who were working during the pandemic. The aim of the survey was to understand how the pandemic has affected healthcare providers personally and what strategies they have used to maintain their mental health and wellbeing.

Some of the questions included were:

  • Have restrictions resulting from COVID-19 outbreaks impacted your mental health and wellbeing negatively?
  • Has working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic increased the amount of stress and pressure for you at home?
  • How would you describe the feelings you have been experiencing as a result of the pandemic?

A total of 445 healthcare providers working on the COVID-19 frontline took part in the London Agency survey. Some of the survey results were sobering:

  • 74% said restrictions resulting from COVID-19 outbreaks have had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
  • 86% said that working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience.

However, many outlined how the vaccine rollout had empowered them and gave them hope in the work they were doing.

  • 58% said they were feeling more positive about the future and felt they were better able to cope now, compared to working under pandemic conditions last year.
  • 60% said they were grateful to be a part of the action plan, felt empowered, and like they have a purpose.

The survey data told a harrowing story of tireless determination in the face of adversary. It was London Agency’s responsibility to tell the nation how healthcare professionals had been coping during these challenging times. London Agency created an infographic to visually represent the survey findings and devised a media release detailing the most prominent statistics. We enlisted the help of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to provide a voice of lived experience to the story.

London Agency understands how much the media appreciates comments from a personal perspective and that is why having an RACGP representative on board was so important to success of this campaign.

 

In the lead-up to World Mental Health Day 2021 we offered RACGP and Mental Health Australia spokespeople for comment to further tell the story of healthcare professionals on the frontline. The survey results were publicly released on 20th October 2021 to mark World Mental Health Day.

London Agency secured 153 media placements for Mental Health Australia. This amounted to an audience reach of over 24 million.

London Agency provided media relations support to Mental Health Australia in the lead up to and during World Mental Health Day 2021 to create additional avenues of awareness for the organisation.

Healthcare providers are looked to as the source of guidance and care, we do not always think about the worries and fears they could be experiencing too. We believe the 2021 awareness campaign changed this and gave healthcare professionals access to support avenues for mental health and wellbeing services. While also positioning Mental Health Australia as the leading resource in this space.